“Promises to Keep” by Jane Green

Promises to Keep book cover

"Promises to Keep" book cover

Sisters Callie and Steffi live completely different lives. Callie is the happily married mom and breast cancer survivor. Steffi is the wild child who lives it up in the city. Their parents, Walter and Honor, haven’t spoken in the decades since their divorce. Then there’s their friend Lila, a 40-something career woman who wonders if she’ll ever find Mr. Right.  Life rolls right along for all concerned until one year changed everything.

Steffi finds more to a move to the country than she imagines, and Lila gets a glimpse of what it means to be loved. All while handling a terrifying diagnosis which is handed to Callie.

This is novel begins as a light-hearted, almost chick-lit style, look at the contrast between suburban and serious versus urban and carefree lifestyles, and the role played by affluence. Then it grows into a story of how crushing circumstances affect a family whose members have been flung all over New England. Much of the story was inspired by a similar situation in the author’s life, when one of her close friends succumbed to cancer. Knowing this before opening to the first page can predispose a reader to loving it, and many readers will. However, issues with the writing style make it harder to love in the opening chapters. The author uses third-person, present tense for most of the novel, then she enters flashbacks with little warning at times.  This smooths out about halfway through, making it much more readable.

Callie, Steffi, and Lila are endearing characters. Although there’s a certain amount of predictability, Green moves the story along to a respectable payoff. There are a few tear-jerker moments toward the end, which can soften even a hardened heart.


Rating: 3.5-Books
Publisher:
 Plume, a Penguin Imprint
Author Website:
www.janegreen.com

ISBN-13: 978-0-452-29717-3

The reviewer received a copy of Promise to Keep from the publisher. This has no impact on the quality or consideration of the review.

The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters… by Lorraine López

The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters
by Lorraine López

Published By: Grand Central Publishing: A Member of Hachette Book Group USA
ISBN-13: 978-0446699211


A Gifted Author
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/17/2008

Loretta, Bette, Rita, and Sophie Gabaldón lost their mother when they were very young. The ancient housekeeper who helped raised them promised each girl they’d receive a gift after her passing. Over the following two decades, the girls grow into women, each of them uniquely gifted. One heals, one tells splendid lies, one curses, and one makes others laugh. Time can only tell whether or not the gifts are blessings.

The bonds of sisterhood are explored and tested as the sisters Gabaldón search for meaning in a sea of questions about their family. Each chapter is told in a different sister’s point of view, and each voice is beautifully rendered through first, second, and third-person narrative, and past and present tense—a different style for each of the sisters.

On the surface, the story may seem complex, maybe over-ambitious. But Lorraine López skillfully weaves the story of five women into a complete saga. Her use of scenery, emotion, and flat-out characterization is entrancing. I smelled the kitchen aromas and cringed at bad karaoke. I saw the sisters as young children, then mothers.

I enjoyed the characters and was sorry to parts ways with them. Each sister was wonderfully flawed, yet deliciously vibrant. It would be a joy to meet them again.

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